U.S. equity futures inched higher on Wednesday, though trading was timid ahead of U.S. data that could show stubborn inflation forcing a faster pace of rate rises from the Federal Reserve.
How are stock-index futures trading
S&P 500 futures
rose 1 point, or less than 0.1% to 3825
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
fell 8 points, or less than 0.1% to 30956
Nasdaq 100 futures
added 18 points, or 0.2% to 11799
The S&P 500 has lost 83.82 points, or 2.1%, over the last three trading days.
What’s driving markets
The U.S. corporate earnings season kicks into gear on Thursday, but for now inflation, in the shape of the June consumer price index report, is the focus for traders.
Stocks have endured a miserable year to date, with the benchmark S&P 500
down close to 20%, battered by persistent inflation concerns and other headwinds.
“Heading into CPI and earnings, after markets had climbed a wall of worry since mid-June, they seem to be losing a bit of footing again over the last few days as fears of a recession dominate again, alongside fears of aggressive rate hikes by central banks, rising Covid cases in China and the prospect of Russia cutting off Europe’s gas,” said Jim Reid, market analyst at Deutsche Bank.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday warned that a surge in inflation poses “systemic risks” to the U.S. economy, a concern not lost on the Federal Reserve as it seeks to damp rising prices by sharply raising borrowing costs. The Fed’s tighter policy trajectory has removed liquidity from the market and helped pressure equity valuations.
The CPI report, due at 8.30am Eastern, is expected to show year-on-year inflation of 8.8%, up from 8.6% in June.
“Remember that it was last month’s much stronger-than-expected report that sparked a tumultuous market reaction that culminated in the Fed moving by 75bps at a single meeting for the first time since 1994, having previously only signalled a 50bps move. So any further surprises today could have a big impact,” Reid told clients in a note.
Market anxiety is elevated ahead of the data. The CBOE Volatility Index
a gauge of expected S&P 500 volatility, was trading at 27.42, off recent highs but well above its long term average around 20.
“A further rise in the U.S. consumer prices will certainly revive the Fed hawks today, push the U.S. dollar higher and equities lower. A softer-than-expected figure, on the other hand, could…result in a much-awaited pause in the dollar rally, and a rebound in equities before big US banks start releasing their quarterly results on Thursday,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, told clients in a note.
“In both cases, the market volatility will likely remain high, and the visibility likely remain low especially when you add the lower summer trading volumes into that mix,” she added.
Bourses across Europe mostly followed Wal Street’s overnight retreat, leaving the Stoxx 600
The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield
fell 2.3 basis points to 2.953% as the risk aversion evident in U.S. stock futures encouraged flows into sovereign bonds.
The dollar slightly firmer versus the yen
but softer against the euro
which was steady after nearing parity in recent sessions. The ICE Dollar Index
was holding near its highest level in nearly 20 years.
added 1.3% to $97.09 a barrel having lost 8.5% over the previous two sessions on fears slowing economic growth would hit demand.